NAWJ Monthly Update January 2017

Written by National Association of Women Judges|January 18, 2017|Monthly Update Archive

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January 2017

In This Issue:

National Association of Women Judges
The Honorable Diana Becton
NAWJ President

President's Message January 2017

Happy New Year and Very Best Wishes for 2017!

With the District Directors bubbling with plans under the leadership of Vice President of Districts, Hon. Marilyn Paja and committee assignments nearly completed, many already humming with activity, we can all look forward to an exciting action packed year. Thanks to all of you who signed up to be on committees, and who agreed to serve as committee chairs and District Directors. You are the heart and soul of NAWJ.

This year, I am excited to announce NAWJ will hold its Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles, California at The Beverly Hilton Hotel from June 7-8, 2017. In conjunction with our regular business meetings, NAWJ will present the Lady Justice Awards Gala, an event to honor exemplary women in various fields for their leadership and accomplishments. Please stay tuned for more information of this very special event.

Many thanks for the many generous contributions to the Annual NAWJ Year End Campaign. If you haven't already, it is never too late to send a contribution.

I trust you are as excited as I am about 2017, and that you will help us continue our tradition of success.

Sincerely yours,

Honorable Diana Becton
President, National Association of Women Judges

Early Bird Registration for the NAWJ Cruise

New England Cruise 2017
MAY 20, 2017 - MAY 27, 2017

Discover a kaleidoscope of beauty and history in Canada and New England - from scenic coastlines to classic lighthouses. All in the spacious elegant comfort of the Holland America Line's ms Maasdam.

Register Today!

NAWJ Registration fee $125 per person by January 20.
$150 per person after January 20.
Each traveler's NAWJ registration fee includes education sessions, a reception onboard and cruise memento. Fees must be paid by members and their family and guests.

Register online here, or download complete and fax, mail, or email this registration form to:
1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1138
Washington, D.C. 20036
FAX: 202-393-0215


Saturday, May 20
Boston: A pre boarding session with documentary film maker Liz Canner who will share the story of the lawsuit involving her request (under the New Hampshire Right to Know law) for police documents relating to a campus assault case in New Hampshire. The suit resulted in a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire last August in the field of First Amendment law.

1. Premiere screening of Liz Canner's documentary film on campus assaults (which is still in preparation, but is expected to be released by the time of our cruise)
2. Ethics for Judges, a session including special considerations for retired judges.
3. A special cocktail reception for our group.

Saturday, May 27
Montreal: Get together for brunch with Canadian members of IAWJ at an historic restaurant near the port where we disembark.

ACCOMMODATIONS - Cabin Information
Fares start at $759 per person for interior staterooms (assuming double occupancy).
Taxes, fees and port expenses are an additional $210 and subject to change.
Group discount rates are guaranteed through January 20.

Download and complete this cabin registration form and mail, fax or email to:
Nancy Curtis
MAIL: 2334 Vista Valley Lane
Vista, California 92084
FAX: 760-295-7733
For more details or to inquire about roommate matching, contact cruise coordinator Nancy Curtis by phone (619) 917-5507 or email

National Association of Women Judges
2017 Midyear Meeting and Lady Justice Gala
June 7-8 • The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles

Attendee registration fee includes Wednesday lunch, Wednesday reception, Thursday educational sessions, Thursday breakfast, Thursday luncheon, Gala reception and Lady Justice Awards Dinner.

$545 First-Time Member Attendee ($645 starting May 6, 2017)
$695 for NAWJ Members ($745 starting May 6, 2017)
$745 for Non-Member Attendees ($795 starting May 6, 2017)

Register online here, or download and fax this registration form.

ROOM RESERVATIONS: Call (310) 274-7777
NAWJ Rate: $299 night, plus state and local taxes, single or double occupancy


Hon. Diana Becton, Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa
Hon. Marguerite Downing, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County
Hon. Lee Smalley Edmon, California Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District
Wendy Coats, Esq., Fisher Phillips, LLP
Amber S. Finch, Esq., Reed Smith
Drucilla S. Ramey, Esq.
Cathy Winter, CourtCall, LLC
Hon. Marcella Holland, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland (Retired)
Hon. Anita L. Santos, Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa
Hon. Marguerite Denise Downing, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
Hon. Bobbi Tillmon, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
Hon. Julie Frantz, Multnomah County Circuit Court, Oregon Hon. Amy Nechtem, Massachusetts Juvenile Court

NAWJ Report Bolsters Radio Segment on Women in Prison
For Female Inmates In New York City, Prison Is A Crowded,
Windowless Room
(From WYNC, National Public Radio)

More than a hundred female federal inmates, sentenced to long-term prison, have instead been held for years in two windowless rooms in a detention center in Brooklyn.

Conditions for the women have been found to violate international standards for the treatment of prisoners.

The problem in Brooklyn actually started in Connecticut, in what was the only federal prison for women in the Northeast. But the prison population across the country increased nearly 10-fold over the last 40 years, and men's prisons were overflowing. In December 2012, the Bureau of Prisons decided to move the women out of the Danbury prison and move men in.

The women were sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center, a jail in Brooklyn, until a new prison could be built on the site. The move was supposed to last 18 months. But nearly three years later, many are still stuck at MDC.

"We felt like we were animals that was taken to a pound and then that was it, they just closed the door and left us," says Ramona Brant, 53. Brant was granted clemency by President Obama in February. Before that, she spent the first 19 years of a life sentence at Danbury for a nonviolent drug charge. She says it was OK - there were activities, jobs, access to the outdoors - until March 2014, when she and the others were moved to the jail.

"Little by little they started filling it up and before we knew it, it was 120 women in this one room, and it was unbearable," she says.

A report released by the National Association of Women Judges finds conditions for the women at MDC violate both the American Bar Association's standards and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners.

The judges said the women had no access to the outdoors and inmates complained of being unable to get appropriate medical care, especially gynecological care. At least one inmate was visibly pregnant. The warden told the judges the Bureau of Prisons couldn't find doctors willing to work there.

David Patton, executive director of the Federal Defenders of New York, the public defenders' service for people who can't afford a private attorney, says his organization has had issues with the facility for years.

"There have been maggots in the food, urine-stained mattresses, dryers that vent into the sleeping area, a lack of fresh air and recreation," Patton says. Unlike Danbury, which is a long-term prison, MDC is a detention center, just meant to hold people while they await trial.

"Jails, like the MDCs, tend not to have the programming, the level of medical and mental health treatment and a whole range of other services that you find in a prison," says David Fathi, director of the ACLU's National Prison Project.

He points out federal courts have ruled that prisoners have the right to outdoor exercise.

"The Supreme Court has made quite clear that prison conditions that might be tolerable for a few weeks or even a couple of months can ripen into unconstitutionality if they go on for a sufficiently long amount of time," Fathi says.

Sister Megan Rice, 86, spent 13 months at MDC during her sentence for vandalizing a nuclear facility in Tennessee. She says without appropriate support, the women are denied any real shot at rehabilitation.

"They're meant to be given opportunities to grow, to leave the prison as a more healed person," she says.

Neither the Bureau of Prisons nor the Justice Department, which oversees it, would talk on record about the conditions or the delay in returning the women to Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the new Danbury facility is finally ready. The bureau says they began transferring inmates back last month.

Access to Justice: Past, Present and Future
NAWJ 39th Annual Conference
October 11-15, 2017
Sheraton Atlanta Hotel • 165 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia

The 39th NAWJ Conference in Atlanta, Georgia will feature vibrant and interactive programs. Our theme, Access to Justice: Past, Present, and Future, will allow attendees to explore historical lessons about justice from the Civil Rights movement; discuss present justice changes such as criminal justice reform, and envision justice initiatives for years to come.

$525 for members who are First-Time Attendees until June 30, 2017
$595 for NAWJ Members until June 30, 2017
$695 for Non-Member Attendees until June 30, 2017

Register online here, or download and fax this registration form.
* Includes $50 late registration fee.

The conference host hotel is the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Call (866) 716-8134 • NAWJ Rate: $199/night, plus applicable taxes, single or double occupancy.

For more information contact: Anne Mercer,

Hon. Sara Lynn Doyle, Court of Appeals of Georgia
Hon. Carol W. Hunstein, Supreme Court of Georgia

Hon. Gail S. Tusan, Superior Court of Fulton County
Hon. Kathlene F. Gosselin, Superior Court, Northeastern Circuit
Hon. Brenda S. Weaver, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Courts

Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Esq., Lawrence and Bundy LLC
Letitia "Tish" McDonald, Esq., King and Spalding

V. Sharon Edenfield, Esq., Edenfield, Cox, Bruce & Classens, P.C.
Shiriki Lean Cavitt, Esq.

NAWJ 2016-2017 Board of Directors

At NAWJ's Annual Business Meeting held during the Annual Conference the following ensemble of seasoned, experienced and dedicated NAWJ members from diverse regions and backgrounds were voted into office. Below a list of Executive Committee members, and District Directors who are you direct resource for news or questions on events and activities in your area.


Hon. Diana Becton, Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County

Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy, New York State Supreme Court, New York County

Vice President, Districts
Hon. Marilyn G. Paja, Kitsap County District Court, Washington

Vice President, Publications
Hon. Jane Spencer Craney, Morgan Superior Court 3, Indiana

Immediate Past President
Hon. Lisa Walsh,

Hon. Tamila Ipema, Superior Court of California, San Diego County

Hon. Kathy J. King, New York State Supreme Court, Kings County

Projects Committee Chair
Hon. Marcella Holland, Baltimore City Circuit Court (Retired), Maryland

Finance Committee Chair
Hon. Ariane Vuono, Massachusetts Appeals Court


District 1 (ME, MA, NH, PR, RI)
Hon. Mary Lou Muirhead, Boston Municipal Court, Massachusetts

District 2 (CT, NY, VT)
Hon. Cheryl J. Gonzales, Civil Court, Housing Part, New York

District 3 (DE, NJ, PA, VI)
Hon. Barbara McDermott, First Judicial District Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

District 4 (DC, MD, VA)
Hon. Heidi Pasichow, Superior Court of the District of Columbia

District 5 (FL, GA, NC, SC)
Hon. Sara Lynn Doyle, Court of Appeals of Georgia

District 6 (AL, LA, MS, TN)
Hon. Bernadette D'Souza, Orleans Civil District Court, Louisiana

District 7 (MI, OH, WV)
Hon. Michelle Rick, 29th Circuit Court, Michigan

District 8 (IL, IN, KY)
Hon. Cassandra Lewis, Cook County Circuit Court, Illinois

District 9 (IA, MO, WI)
Hon. Ellen Levy Siwak, State of Missouri

District 10 (KS, MN, NE, ND, SD)
Hon. Cheryl Rios, Shawnee County District Court, Kansas

District 11 (AR, OK, TX)
Hon. Karen Sage, 299th District Court, Texas

District 12 (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY)
Hon. Emily Anderson, 17th Judicial District Court, Colorado

District 13 (AK, HI, ID, MT, OR, WA)
Hon. Karen Donohue, Seattle Municipal Court, Washington

District 14 (CA, NV)
Hon. Anita Santos, Contra Costa County Superior Court, California


International Director
Hon. Lisette Shirdan-Harris, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

ABA Delegate
Hon. Toni E. Clarke, Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland

Landmark Sponsor GEICO

Part of NAWJ and GEICO's partnership provides insurance discounts to NAWJ members. Contact GEICO for a free quote on auto insurance to see how much you could be saving. And, don't forget to mention your NAWJ affiliation; you could qualify for an exclusive member savings opportunity. Visit (special portal here) or call 1-800-368-2734 for your free rate quote. GEICO can also help you find great rates on homeowners, renters, motorcycle insurance, and more.

Calendar of Events
Join NAWJ on Holland America's ms Maasdam will sail from Boston to Montreal, May 20-27, 2017.

NAWJ Midyear Meeting and Lady Justice Awards Gala will take place in Los Angeles, California from June 7-8, 2017 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.

NAWJ 39th Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 11-15, 2017 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.

NAWJ 40th Annual Conference will take place in San Antonio, Texas from October 3-7, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk.

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